No Football – No Problem


By: Bryan Snyder
Head Volleyball Coach/Assistant Athletic Director

One of the buzzwords in the music industry these days is “sampling”, and for this entry of the blog, I am going to sample a couple of things.  The first thing I am sampling is the title – it was TBS’s old slogan for the first couple of Sundays following the conclusion of the NFL season when they would play all day marathons of “guy” flicks.  Think Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, or Vin Diesel for the younger crowd, etc. all day long.

The Super Bowl of Racing

So, now that the NFL season is over with the completion of Sunday’s Super Bowl (great game, and I was very glad to see the Packers win, or more accurately, the Steelers lose), I am going to give everyone an idea of how to spend those Sunday afternoons that have been reserved for the NFL for the past five months.  Here is where the second example of sampling comes in, as I am going to use this blog as a way to promote one of my favorite sports that a lot of others around here don’t appreciate.  (I am sampling Rachel’s love of hockey here for those who don’t read the blog regularly)  Since the NFL’s version of the Super Bowl is over, it is now time to focus on the “Super Bowl of NASCAR”, the Daytona 500!  Daytona is less than two weeks away (Feb. 20), and I have been anxiously awaiting the start of the NASCAR season since New Year’s Day.  In my opinion, the Daytona 500 is a much more fan-friendly sporting event than the Super Bowl, and I am going to give you four very good reasons why.

1. Start Time
I absolutely hate the fact that the Super Bowl starts so late in the day!  It is originally listed as a 6:00 PM start when the TV listings are released, then the NFL designates the kickoff for 6:29 PM, and this year’s game actually kicked off  at 6:34 PM (I checked this as it was happening since I knew this would be a key point in my entry this week).  This game does not end until 10:30 or so at night, and when you have to get up early on Monday to start your week, that alarm comes very early.  Also, because of the late start, we are subjected to something like seven hours of pre-game shows.  The networks only show about 2 hours of pre-game during the regular season when there are 16 games (on non-bye weeks) to talk about, but somehow need seven hours for the Super Bowl?  Most of it is just filler junk.  The Daytona 500 however will drop the green flag sometime just before 2:00 PM, and the race will be over around 6 or so – perfect!  There will be about 40 minutes of pre-race coverage on TV with an additional hour on the radio broadcast (side note:  NASCAR is the BEST sport to listen to on the radio BY FAR!), for 43 participating teams.

2. Season-Opening Event
The Super Bowl builds up a great deal of excitement (especially with the unnecessary week off between the conference championships and the Super Bowl) and media hype, but then what happens after the game is over?  You have to wait until September (or later this year depending on what all the big, whiny, millionaire owners and players decide to do about a labor agreement) to see another game.  It is only two days post Super Bowl, and the most relevant thing NFL fans have to watch is Aaron Rodgers on David Letterman.  The Daytona 500 builds excitement all off-season, and then once the race is over, that excitement builds and carries over into the rest of the season.  Only seven days after competing in the biggest race in NASCAR, all of the drivers and teams will be back on the track in Phoenix for the second race of the Sprint Cup Series.

Jimmie Johnson is the greatest dynasty in sports right now

3. There is Always Someone to Root For
The last time my favorite NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, was in the Super Bowl, I had just turned 12 years old.  It has been a long time since there has actually been a team in the Super Bowl that I wanted to win – usually, I just root against the team I dislike the most, as was the case this year and last year for sure.  No matter who your favorite NASCAR driver is (unless your favorite driver is someone like Boris Said), you will be able to root for that driver in the biggest race of the season.  Jimmie Johnson (5 consecutive titles – greatest dynasty in sports right now … sorry UCONN Women’s hoops), Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, etc. will all be there gunning to win the 2011 Daytona 500 and fans of ALL of the drivers have the hope that their driver will win the race and possibly the Sprint Cup Championship.  The Super Bowl is a great social event, but for passionate fans to have a chance to really root for their favorite, the Daytona 500 is 21 ½ times better – 43 drivers at Daytona vs. 2 teams in the Super Bowl. (sorry, I just had to throw that in there … how many times do you get to use 21 ½ ?)

There's a reason why the Masters is at Augusta National every year. It's awesome and it works.

4. Same Venue Every Year
I know that it is cool for the Super Bowl to be in a different city and at a different stadium every year so that each hosting city can play the “can you top this” game of hyping up the actual event and providing the greatest fan and media experience.  However, by changing venues, I think the Super Bowl loses a little character.  There is just something special about seeing a major sporting event at the same venue every year that lends itself to more drama and history.  I think this is why The Masters is the greatest of the four golf majors, because everyone knows the layout of Augusta National, and contemporary players are always compared to players of the past since they all played the same course.  Granted, a football field has the same dimensions regardless of what stadium it is in, but wouldn’t it have been fun to see if Adam Vinatieri could have made one of his Super Bowl winning kicks through the same goal posts that denied Scott Norwood?  It is great to watch the Daytona 500 and know exactly where the tri-oval, the back straightaway, turns 1 through 4 and the entry and exit to pit road are.  Every time you watch the race you can remember things that happened in those exact same spots in previous races.  The tradition of the race itself continues to build, while the Super Bowl seems to be 45 singular events that lack a common physical connection.

So there you have my argument for why the Daytona 500 is a better sporting event than the Super Bowl.  I know that there will be many who will laugh, or maybe not even read the whole thing, but I encourage you to watch the 2011 Daytona 500 and give it an honest chance.  Pick a driver and follow him (or her) for 500 miles (200 laps around the 2.5 mile speedway) and feel the excitement!  I have been a big NASCAR fan since the early 90’s, and I look forward to many more great races at Daytona.  It all starts with the Shootout this Saturday (Feb. 12) … oh wait, did I forget to mention that with the shootout, the duels (or the twin 125’s to us old school fans) on the 17th, practice and qualifying sessions, the Daytona 500 actually has competition going on for nearly 2 weeks?  Wow, how much better is that than listening to debates about who has the better hair between Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews Jr.?


One Response to “No Football – No Problem”

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